Short reviews of movies playing throughout the Tampa Bay area.

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STARSKY AND HUTCH (PG-13) The jokes are hit-or-miss and the action is routine in this shizoid and scattershot adaptation of the late '70s television series about buddy cops. Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson display more of that easygoing chemistry that made Zoolander so enjoyable, but that's about all Starsky and Hutch has going for it. The movie can't decide if it wants to be a spoof, an homage or some sort of quirky but more-or-less serious crime caper, and it's not particular adept at any of those. Even the whole '70s nostalgia thing feels disappointingly bland and joyless here. Also stars Vince Vaughn, Snoop Dogg, Fred Williamson and Jason Bateman.

TAKING LIVES (R) Nothing sets Taking Lives apart from countless other crime thrillers (except Academy Award-winner Angelina Jolie's bare breasts). Jolie plays the foxy, fearless Illeana Scott, a top FBI profiler hired to track down a serial, chameleon-like killer who steals the identities of his victims. The movie takes a twist when Jolie's character finds herself the victim of deception. Certain aspects of the story are confusing and irrelevant, which is sort of a hallmark of this genre, as is the predictable ending and the inhospitable local police team threatened by a talented, methodological agent helping to solve a case. As holes gape in the plot, the movie's appeal fades. Also stars Ethan Hawke and Keifer Sutherland. 1/2—Whitney Meers/Cooper Cruz

THE UNITED STATES OF LELAND (R) Another one of those high-minded but empty-headed examinations of suburban angst that have given the Sundance Film Festival such a bad name. Ryan Gosling stars as a bright but alienated young man who has committed a horrible and apparently motiveless, senseless crime. The film is filled with long, poetic speeches and pregnant pauses, but the insights yielded are puny at best. It's a classic case of much ado about nothing, in a movie that ultimately seems as random and senseless as the act of violence it's supposedly investigating. Also stars Don Cheadle, Jena Malone and Kevin Spacey. Opens April 16 at Channelside Cinemas. 1/2

WALKING TALL (PG-13) With a running time of barely 75 minutes, Walking Tall feels like a movie whittled down to the essentials, and just barely going through the motions. Sadly, those essentials don't include character development or attempts to craft an interesting, cohesive story. This is all you need to know: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson stars as a tough, ex-soldier who finds that his nice little hometown has turned into a den of iniquity and vows to single-handedly clean it up. The action scenes are energetic and bloody, and Johnny Knoxville provides some pleasant comic relief as the hero's sidekick, but this wisp of a movie is mostly just a reason for audiences to squeal at The Rock's pecs and scream "Kill him!" when his character corners the bad guys. Also stars Neal McDonaugh and Ashley Scott. Reviewed entries by Lance Goldenberg unless otherwise noted.

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